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Frontrunning: January 30

  • Falling Prices Spread Pain Far Across The Oil Patch (WSJ)
  • ISIS Group Claims Responsibility for Attacks That Killed 27 in Egypt (NBC)
  • Russia Unexpectedly Cuts Key Rate as Economy Eclipses Ruble (BBG)
  • Greece’s Feisty Finance Minister Tries a More Moderate Message (NYT)
  • U.S. homeownership hits 20-year low, but new households growing (Reuters)
  • Indian Banks’ Shares Plunge as Bad-Loan Provisions Surge (BBG)
  • Underground Terror Network Said to Benefit Would-Be Jihadists in Europe (WSJ)
  • Russia warns West support for Kiev could lead to 'catastrophe' (Reuters)
  • Battle Brews Over Bids for Broker GFI Group (WSJ)
  • BofA Said to Cut Bonus Pool for Equities Traders Up to 10% (BBG)
  • Cheap Oil Burns $390 Billion Hole in Investors' Pockets (BBG)
  • South Korea Stares Into the Deflationary Abyss (BBG)
  • Monte Paschi Falls on Report Bank Plans Larger Capital Increase (BBG)

 

Overnight Media Digest

WSJ

* Trouble has been looming over the oil patch since crude prices began falling last summer. But only now are the long-feared effects of a bust starting to ripple through the energy ecosystem. (http://on.wsj.com/1uHDPfg)

* Would-be attackers no longer need to be part of a terror group's rank-and-file to benefit from its resources, according to Western counterterrorism officials and people close to militant networks. (http://on.wsj.com/1ySxu5J)

* Uber Technologies Inc has followed a pugnacious expansion strategy as it rolled into 277 cities around the world, sometimes skirting local laws and daring regulators to stop the smartphone-based car service. (http://on.wsj.com/1uHALzy)

* A surging dollar is pummeling currencies around the globe amid efforts to boost economic growth, prompting a wave of investor bets to profit from the upheaval. (http://on.wsj.com/1uHE9dP)

* A takeover fight between hard-charging rivals over a broker to Wall Street's biggest banks is coming to a head, a showdown that has split the firm's board amid dueling claims about management conflicts and the hostile bidder's motivations.(http://on.wsj.com/1KdQCgD)

* Restaurant chain Shake Shack Inc, known for its burgers and crinkle-cut fries, priced its initial public offering above expectations at $21 apiece late Thursday. (http://on.wsj.com/1Lov7gu)

* Chevron Corp's big-budget exploration projects, conceived during an era of high energy prices, are starting to produce their first barrels of oil as a global glut is making the payoff from such projects less certain. (http://on.wsj.com/1zFOqPh)

* Ally Financial Inc's chief executive Thursday reacted angrily to General Motors Co's decision to squeeze the lender out of a lucrative leasing business and vowed to overcome getting jilted by the firm's former parent. (http://on.wsj.com/1CiwPNu)

* Federal prosecutors in New York said they would drop charges against five men they previously accused of insider trading Thursday, the latest casualty of an appeals court ruling last month that upended the government's ability to bring such charges. (http://on.wsj.com/1vcNMaa)

* Music streaming service Spotify AB is working with Goldman Sachs Group Inc on a new round of private fundraising, potentially putting off an initial public stock offering for another year, said people familiar with the matter. (http://on.wsj.com/1BvLmjF)

* The Federal Reserve proposed allowing more small banks to exceed debt limits when financing mergers and acquisitions, implementing a law Congress passed in December. (http://on.wsj.com/1yGgM4H)

* Du Pont plans to cut bonus payments and delay raises for this year, said a person familiar with the matter, as the chemical company grapples with slower-than-expected growth and an activist investor's push to split the company. (http://on.wsj.com/1A51Bc2)

* Cablevision Systems Corp is suing Verizon Communications Inc, accusing Verizon of falsely advertising the "fastest Wi-Fi available" in New York in an attempt to undercut Cablevision's competitive advantage. (http://on.wsj.com/1zFP3s9)

* One of Malaysia's richest men has agreed in principle to lend funds to 1 Malaysia Development Bhd, or 1MDB, to help settle a $560 million loan due Saturday, people familiar with the matter said. (http://on.wsj.com/1Bx5OAJ)

 

FT

* Online music streaming service Spotify is working with Goldman Sachs for a new round of private fundraising which is expected to value the company at $8 billion. This move is expected to delay the company's public listing, which many thought would occur this year.

* Plunging crude prices have made Royal Dutch Shell Plc and ConocoPhillips cut their investment programmes by billions of dollars. Shell said it would "curtail" its capital spending by $15 billion over 2015-17 and Conoco said it planned a much steeper 33 percent cut in its capital spending this year to $11.5 billion.

* Atlas Genetics, a UK-based molecular diagnostics company, has raised $20 million from investors that include the likes of Novartis AG and Johnson & Johnson. Atlas is developing a 30-minute test for sexually transmitted diseases and is also planning to launch its first test for chlamydia this year.

 

NYT

* With the latest earnings reports from Microsoft Corp and Apple Inc, the once-unthinkable became reality: Apple's market capitalization hit $683 billion, more than double Microsoft's $338 billion. (http://nyti.ms/15ZuZD9)

* Some cardiologists are reaping huge reimbursements for operating to relieve blockages in peripheral veins and arteries, a treatment many may not need. (http://nyti.ms/1yHLuuo)

* Because Venezuela is so dependent on oil sales to buy imports of food, medicine and many other basics, the drop in oil prices means that there is even less hard currency to buy what the country needs. (http://nyti.ms/1wGyBjs)

* Shake Shack Inc, a burger-and-crinkle-fries empire with outposts in London, Dubai, Istanbul and Las Vegas, will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday, with a valuation of about $745 million, and will increase restaurateur Danny Meyer's net worth by about $155 million. (http://nyti.ms/1tBEqDS)

* After years of making record profits as oil prices soared, America's oil giants are beginning to lose money. For the first time since the 2008 financial crisis, ConocoPhillips reported that it had lost money - $39 million in the fourth quarter in contrast to a profit of $2.5 billion the year before. Occidental Petroleum, another large producer in United States shale fields and the Middle East, said it lost $3.4 billion in the quarter, in contrast to a $1.6 billion gain in the same quarter in 2013. (http://nyti.ms/1uHC9Cg)

* Amazon Inc's profits fell in the fourth quarter. Revenue did not meet expectations. The company said it might lose money in the current quarter. For years, Amazon was a story about growth. It invested in warehouses and faster delivery systems, in making movies and building devices. Wall Street was willing to dismiss profits as long as sales continued to jump. If Amazon achieved the kind of domination it was striving for, the results would be worth it. (http://nyti.ms/15Nxj0c)

* Everybody knows Google Inc is working on a lot of things besides search. Wall Street wants to know when all those projects will start making a lot of money. In the last three months of 2014, Google's net revenue growth slowed to 10 percent when compared with the same quarter a year ago. (http://nyti.ms/1A54NV8)

 

Canada

THE GLOBE AND MAIL

** Canada's spy agency will be granted the authority to intervene and disrupt threats to national security in a massive expansion of its powers as the federal government tries to make it easier to thwart terror plots at home and abroad, sources say. (http://bit.ly/1ETcOLQ)

** Keystone XL backers in the Senate voted decisively Thursday to strip U.S. President Barack Obama of decision-making authority over the controversial Canadian oil sands pipeline, triggering a political confrontation between the Republican-controlled Congress and the Democratic president. (http://bit.ly/1zcErPD)

** School boards across Ontario are spending C$1 billion a year, 5 percent of their provincial operating budgets, on buildings with an excess of empty space, money that should be used for student programs, Ontario Education Minister Liz Sandals says. (http://bit.ly/1zFVsDx)

NATIONAL POST

** The most revealing thing about Thursday's ministerial update on Canada's role in the fight against ISIS was that it took place at all. Rob Nicholson, the defence minister, John Baird, the foreign affairs minister, and General Tom Lawson, the chief of the defence staff, were grilled Thursday on the mission in Iraq by MPs at a joint sitting of the defence and foreign affairs committees. (http://bit.ly/1Lp6NLs)

** Canadian Oil Sands Ltd slashed its dividend by 75 percent on Thursday, trimmed its capital budget and announced an intensified effort to control costs, as the company reported lower-than-expected year-end results. (http://bit.ly/1CiJL6b)

** Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to unveil on Friday details of a bill that would provide Canada's government with new powers to fight terrorism, according to several news reports. (http://bit.ly/1ySZSEQ)

 

China

CHINA SECURITIES JOURNAL

- China plans to restrict land use and approve fewer housing projects in cities where real estate markets have high inventories, the newspaper reported citing industry sources.

SECURITIES TIMES

- China is still facing pressure from its economic downturn, and the central government may adopt policies including lowering financing costs, increasing investments in infrastructure, and easing property restrictions, said Li Huiyong, a Shanghai-based economist at Shenyin & Wanguo Securities.

- The New Third Board, China's leading over-the-counter exchange, saw its financing ability rise 1218 percent to touch 13.2 billion yuan ($2.11 billion) last year.

SHANGHAI SECURITIES NEWS

- Five Chinese provinces - Guangxi, Shandong, Shaanxi, Gansu and Henan - are proposing to set up free trade zones, the newspaper reported citing statements from each province's government.

- State-owned China Railway Materials has listed for sale its stake in a loss-making Inner Monoglia-based iron unit, according to a filing with the China Beijing Equity Exchange, paving the way for the firm to restart stock listing plans.

CHINA DAILY

- Twenty-six out of 28 provincial-level governments that have announced annual economic growth targets have cut their goals.

- China plans to build and test a new "Chinese standard" bullet train this year with a maximum speed of 350 kilometers per hour, state-owned railway operator China Railway Corporation's general manager, Sheng Guangzu, said on Thursday.

 

Britain

The Times

Thousands of small businesses will be told that they may have been mis-sold interest rate caps by their lenders, potentially putting the country's largest banks on the hook for at least 1 billion pounds ($1.51 billion) in new compensation payouts. The Financial Conduct Authority is expected to say that between 5,500 and 6,000 businesses will be allowed to join its redress scheme for swap mis-selling. (thetim.es/1JQ04sc)

Soaring iPhone sales pushed the shares in a British microchip designer to their highest level in more than a year. ARM Holdings benefited from a knockout quarterly earnings report from Apple, in which the Californian technology group announced the biggest quarterly profit in corporate history. (thetim.es/1612C8t)

The Guardian

England's biggest hospitals are refusing to sign off their annual budget deal with the NHS, claiming that the 1.7 billion pounds of cuts involved will mean they can no longer guarantee the safe care of patients. In an unprecedented move, hospitals that provide 75 percent of all NHS hospital care, have vetoed plans drawn up by Monitor, the NHS's financial regulator, to reduce their income to help the service balance its books. (bit.ly/1ESbFUA)

Ed Miliband has stressed that the new Scottish Labour leader, Jim Murphy, has his full backing to make his own decisions for his party north of the border, as polls suggest a potentially devastating swing from Labour to the SNP. (bit.ly/1DjU3jt)

The Telegraph

The yields on 10-year Government bonds have hit record lows, as the returns on sovereign debt have fallen across the globe. The returns offered on the UK instruments, also known as Gilts, fell below 1.4 percent for the first time in history.(bit.ly/1wFHxWl)

A British grandmother who tried to kill herself rather than face extradition to the U.S. was today spared prison after she and her husband admitted to fraud charges. The Northamptonshire couple admitted to defrauding their U.S. company of $1 million, which they used to fund a lavish lifestyle of holidays in Barbados and furniture for their dog. (bit.ly/1BANQzL)

Sky News

Sky, the owner of Sky News, has announced it is entering the mobile market for the first time in a partnership with O2, allowing it to become a so-called 'quad player'. The wholesale deal, which will not affect O2's existing customers, means Sky can offer mobile services to Sky customers on Sky bills from 2016. (bit.ly/1KaToTJ)

Argos has stepped up its digital transformation by confirming plans for 10 concession outlets within Sainsbury's stores. The 10 Argos stores, to be open by the summer, would be spread across the UK. (bit.ly/1uEuVPo)

The Independent

A London start-up that delivers Nando's and Gourmet Burger Kitchen to your door has raised $25 million (16.59 million pounds) to bring its upmarket takeaway service to more cities across the UK. (ind.pn/1HiaLpw)

Shell has announced a $15 billion spending cut over a three-year period after the company responds to sliding oil prices. However, the Anglo-Dutch oil and gas giant pledged not to over-react to the falling prices, which it said created opportunities to reduce its own costs. (ind.pn/1Bzjm12)

Fly On The Wall Pre-Market Buzz

ECONOMIC REPORTS

Domestic economic reports scheduled for today include:
Q4 real GDP at 8:30--consensus up 3.0%
Employment Cost Index for Q4 at 8:30--consensus up 0.6%
Chicago PMI Business Barometer Index for January at 9:45--consensus 57.7
Consumer Sentiment Index for January at 10:00--consensus 98.2

ANALYST RESEARCH

Upgrades

Abbott (ABT) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
Boston Scientific (BSX) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at BMO Capital
Chico's FAS (CHS) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Janney Capital
Foot Locker (FL) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Barclays
JA Solar (JASO) upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital
K12 (LRN) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
PolyOne (POL) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at RW Baird
QLogic (QLGC) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at BMO Capital
Stanley Black & Decker (SWK) upgraded to Equal Weight from Underweight at Barclays
SunPower (SPWR) upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital
TCF Financial (TCB) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at DA Davidson
Textron (TXT) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at BofA/Merrill
Trina Solar  (TSL) upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital
Umpqua Holdings (UMPQ) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Keefe Bruyette
Valero Energy Partners (VLP) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse
Yahoo (YHOO) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Evercore ISI
Zimmer (ZMH) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at RW Baird

Downgrades

Advanced Emissions (ADES) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Cowen
Albemarle (ALB) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at RW Baird
Align Technology (ALGN) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at JMP Securities
Bank of Montreal (BMO) downgraded to Underweight from Equal Weight at Barclays
Broadcom (BRCM) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at JMP Securities
CEMEX (CX) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Longbow
Cameron (CAM) downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital
Computer Programs (CPSI) downgraded to Sell from Hold at Deutsche Bank
DCP Midstream (DPM) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Wells Fargo
Delhaize (DEG) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan
Dr. Reddy's Labs (RDY) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse
Greenhill & Co. (GHL) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at UBS
PulteGroup (PHM) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Wells Fargo
Quest Diagnostics (DGX) downgraded to Underperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Reliance Steel (RS) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at BofA/Merrill
Royal Bank of Canada (RY) downgraded to Underweight from Equal Weight at Barclays
Silicon Graphics (SGI) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Sterne Agee
Teradyne (TER) downgraded to Neutral from Positive at Susquehanna
Toronto-Dominion (TD) downgraded to Underweight from Equal Weight at Barclays
Triumph Group (TGI) downgraded to Underperform from Outperform at Cowen
Visa (V) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at FBR Capital
West Corp. (WSTC) downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital
Zimmer (ZMH) downgraded to Buy from Strong Buy at Needham

Initiations

Acuity Brands (AYI) coverage resumed with a Buy at Stifel
Aflac (AFL) initiated with a Hold at Jefferies
American Equity (AEL) initiated with a Hold at Jefferies
Ameriprise (AMP) initiated with a Hold at Jefferies
Assurant (AIZ) initiated with a Hold at Jefferies
Badger Meter (BMI) initiated with a Neutral at Sterne Agee
CDK Global (CDK) initiated with an Underweight at JPMorgan
CNO Financial (CNO) initiated with a Buy at Jefferies
FBL Financial (FFG) initiated with a Hold at Jefferies
Franklin Electric (FELE) initiated with a Buy at Sterne Agee
Genworth (GNW) initiated with a Buy at Jefferies
Lincoln National (LNC) initiated with a Hold at Jefferies
Neptune Technologies (nept) coverage resumed with a Buy at Roth Capital
Pentair (PNR) initiated with a Neutral at Sterne Agee
Principal Financial (PFG) initiated with a Buy at Jefferies
Rexnord (RXN) initiated with a Buy at Sterne Agee
Rockwell Medical (RMTI) initiated with a Buy at BofA/Merrill
StanCorp (SFG) initiated with a Hold at Jefferies
Torchmark (TMK) initiated with a Hold at Jefferies

COMPANY NEWS

Costco (COST) announced a special cash dividend of $5.00 per share
The Manitowoc Company (MTW) announced that its Board of Directors has approved a plan to pursue a separation of the Company's Cranes and Foodservice businesses into two independent, publicly-traded companies
VMware (VMW) announced an expanded agreement with Google (GOOG) to deliver greater enterprise access to public cloud services via VMware vCloud Air
Intercept Pharmaceuticals (ICPT) received breakthrough designation from FDA for steatohepatitis treatment
Books-A-Million (BAMM) announced the receipt of a non-binding proposal from Clyde B. Anderson, executive chairman of the company, on behalf of the Anderson family, to acquire certain outstanding shares of the common stock of Books-A-Million, at a cash purchase price of $2.75 per share
Advanced Emissions (ADES) said it is unlikely to meet SEC filing requirements for NASDAQ listing
Amazon.com (AMZN) reported worldwide paid Prime memberships up 53% in 2014
Google (GOOG) mobile advertising on YouTube is up more than 100%

EARNINGS

Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:

Amazon.com (AMZN), Magic Software (MGIC), ImmunoGen (IMGN), Newell Rubbermaid (NWL), Eli Lilly (LLY), Investors Bancorp (ISBC), Robert Half (RHI), Eastman Chemical (EMN), National Fuel (NFG), Minerals Technologies (MTX), NewMarket (NEU), Fair Isaac (FICO), Callaway Golf (ELY), Synaptics (SYNA), Emulex (ELX), Selective Insurance (SIGI), Aviat Networks (AVNW), Unisys (UIS), Validus (VR), First Bancorp (fbnc), Matthews (MATW), SurModics (SRDX), Key Technology (KTEC), SolarWinds (SWI), Cavco Industries (CVCO), Mitek Systems (MITK), Cepheid (CPHD), Bottomline Technologies (EPAY), Lantronix (LTRX), Microchip (MCHP), PerkinElmer (PKI), Gigamon (GIMO), PC Connection (PCCC), Kofax (KFX), QLogic (QLGC), Chubb (CB), Constant Contact (CTCT), C.R. Bard (BCR), Scansource (SCSC), Natural Grocers (NGVC), Hanesbrands (HBI), Proofpoint (PFPT), Harmonic (HLIT), Riverbed (RVBD), Micrel Semiconductor (MRCL), Biogen (BIIB), National Instruments (NATI), Visa (V), Coherent (COHR), Principal Financial (PFG), FCB Financial (FCB), Werner (WERN), Abaxis (ABAX)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:

Google (GOOG), Beazer Homes (BZH), Mattel (MAT), MB Financial (MBFI), Bridge Bancorp (BDGE), Bridge Bancorp (BDGE), Bankwell Financial (BWFG), First Business Financial (FBIZ), Glacier Bancorp (GBCI), Majesco (COOL), Computer Programs (CPSI), First Financial Bancorp (FFBC), First Community (FCBC), Green Bancorp (GNBC), Green Dot (GDOT), Leggett & Platt (LEG), Deckers Outdoor (DECK), JDSU (JDSU), Merchant Bancshares (MBVT), Manitowoc (MTW), Tuesday Morning (TUES), Align Technology (ALGN)

Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:

Quantum (QTM), NetSuite (N), Credit Acceptance (cacc), Electronics for Imaging (EFII), TFS Financial  (TFSL), PMC-Sierra (PMCS), Hawaiian Holdings (HA)

Amazon.com (AMZN) sees Q1 revenue $20.9B-$22.9B, consensus $23.05B
Broadcom (BRCM) sees Q1 revenue about $2B, plus or minus $75M, consensus $2.01B
Visa (V) sees FY15 annual diluted class A common stock EPS growth in mid-teens, sees FY15 annual net revenue growth low double digits, consensus $13.86B
Boston Properties (BXP) raises 2015 FFO view to $5.28-$5.43 from $5.22-$5.42
NetSuite (N) sees Q1 revenue $160M-$162M, consensus $162.61M, backs FY15 revenue view $715M-$725M, consensus $722.92M
Eli Lilly (LLY) backs FY15 EPS view of $3.10-$3.20, consensus $3.18

NEWSPAPERS/WEBSITES

GM (GM) will suspend production at its Russian plant for two months, Reuters reports
DuPont (DD) plans to cut bonuses, delay raises for year, WSJ reports
Cablevision (CVC) suing Verizon (VZ) for false advertising over Wi-Fi service, WSJ reports
TransCanada (TRP) Keystone pipeline bill passed by Senate, Bloomberg reports
Philips (PHG): Smart LED lighting to drive demand in 3-4 years, DigiTimes reports (SSNLF, GE, CREE, API, LEDS)

SYNDICATE

Ashford Hospitality (AHT) files to sell 9.5M shares of common stock
Avinger (avgr) 5M share IPO priced at $13.00
India Globalization Capital (IGC) files to sell 1.2M shares of common stock
InfraREIT (HIFR) 20M share IPO priced at $23.00
Performant Financial (PFMT) withdraws common stock and covertible offering
Shake Shack (SHAK) 5M share IPO priced at $21.00
Spark Therapeutics (ONCE) 7M share IPO priced at $23.00
TRACON Pharmaceuticals (TCON) 3.6M share IPO priced at $10.00
Unilife (UNIS) announces common stock offering, no amount given